SUPER COMPANIONS

Two parts of any meal should be very simple. A large cut of meat or fish, especially grilled, is good on its own and needs little garnish. Dessert is easy to like: who doesn’t want chocolate, sugar or butter? You can also easily buy desserts and your family or guests won’t complain.

But in these days of eating lighter, eating more fiber, trying to get more vitamins, and buying fresh vegetables from farmers’ markets that taste like old-time greens, it’s best to make the side dishes the star. Can’t get enough of the usual salads, baked or fried potatoes, carrot and celery sticks? The recipes here can be made by any home cook and will make a delicious side to any meal. If you’re cooking for guests, they’ll be wowed, because too often others don’t put in the effort to prepare the garnishes!

ROOT VEGETABLES IN THE OVEN

Comfort food doesn’t have to be greasy. Let’s be real about unusual root vegetables. Unless you’re a foodie, you’re not likely to center an entire garnish around something like parsnips or celery. The best way to bring these rich root vegetables “offstage” is to integrate them with what you know and love.

This recipe has celery, a turnip-like root vegetable that isn’t really the “root” type of celery you normally eat, but it does taste like celery.

Parsnips, for those unfamiliar with them, are shaped like a white carrot (only fatter) and taste almost similar to fennel. I grew up in the Midwest so we ate them, but I’ve come across plenty of people who have never eaten them.

ROOT VEGETABLES IN THE OVEN

•2 medium potatoes

•1 sweet potato

•1 celeriac

•2 medium parsnips

•1 tablespoon of lemon juice

•2 tablespoons of olive oil

•1/2 teaspoon of lemon pepper

•1 teaspoon of dried parsley

•1/2 teaspoon of dried tarragon leaves

•1 tablespoon kosher salt

•1 cup panko breadcrumbs

•Olive oil (to coat the pan)

Preheat oven to 350F. Peel the vegetables and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Put in a saucepan with boiling water and boil for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve.

In a small bowl, mix together the lemon pepper, dried parsley, dried tarragon leaves, salt, and panko breadcrumbs. Remove. For lemon juice and olive oil on vegetables. Stir gently. Then sprinkle on half of the breadcrumb-spice mixture and stir. Sprinkle the rest and stir again. Pour into a 9×12 pan that has been coated with olive oil. Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, then serve.

UPPER STUDS

I’ll try not to go on too long here, but just so you know, finding the first fresh, skinny asparagus at the farmer’s market is about as exciting to me as someone saying, “You’re in the tonight show–tonight!” or “You can go to the Oscars this year!”

You can’t put too much on the asparagus because it’s good on its own. However, knowing that not everyone shares my level of enthusiasm, I developed an asparagus side dish that will dazzle even the most cynical eater at his table.

UPPER STUDS

•1 pound. asparagus, washed, woody ends trimmed

•1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

•1/2 tea. dried parsley

•1/2 tea. Horseradish

•1 tablesp. dijon mustard

•1/4 tea. paprika (I prefer Hungarian paprika because it’s sweeter, but regular will do)

Blend the horseradish, dijon mustard, and paprika into a paste. Set aside. Heat olive oil and parsley in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the asparagus. Jump, with constant attention for five minutes. To remove the remaining oil, lower the heat. Add the pasta mixture, mix in the asparagus and stir. Serve immediately.

CANDIED CARROTS FOR ADULTS

Do you remember the candied carrots from our childhood? If you’re like me, it was an assortment of carrots and marshmallows baked in one skillet. It was sweet, but sugary-sweet.

It’s time for an adult version. If you wonder what “orange blossom honey” is, it is the honey created by bees that only swarm in orange trees. You can find it at Whole Foods and many other stores, or you can order it online. Do not substitute other honey unless you just want sweet carrots and don’t care. This recipe is simple and exquisite.

CANDIED CARROTS FOR ADULTS

•2/3 cup of orange blossom honey

•2 teaspoons of kosher salt

•2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut on the bias the size of a bite

•2 tablespoons of cumin seeds

•2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

•1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add honey, salt, and then stir. Add carrots. Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has mostly evaporated and the carrots are tender. Turn off the heat. Add the cumin, olive oil, and lemon juice and stir. Then it works!

GREEN PEPPER QUINOA

How did ancient people stay healthy without today’s modern medicines? One way was to eat good food. One of the best is quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wa. This food was a staple in the Inca civilization, it is even known as “the mother of all grains”. Quinoa resurfaced commercially about 20 years ago and now appears in supermarket chains.

Easy to do. Low in fat. Low in sodium. Easy to digest. Without gluten. Very high in protein, enough for the National Academy of Sciences to call it “one of the best sources of protein in the plant kingdom.” All this, and it tastes great. It has a delicious nutty flavor and serves as a great alternative to rice and couscous. Some people refer to it as a “pimple,” but it’s not a pimple. It is actually a seed.

GREEN PEPPER QUINOA

•1 cup of quinoa (see note below)

•2 cups of chicken broth

•1 tablespoon butter

•1 medium red onion, diced

•1 medium green bell pepper, diced

•2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

•1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

•1/2 teaspoon of cumin

•1/2 teaspoon of paprika

•1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard (optional)

(Note: this recipe calls for commercially available boxed quinoa, not unwashed quinoa.) Put the quinoa and chicken broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the broth is absorbed, about 15-20 minutes. (With quinoa, the grain appears smooth and in red quinoa, the “germ ring” which is white will become visible after cooking.) If the broth has not yet been absorbed, turn off the heat and let stand a few more minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. Halfway through the saute time, add Worcestershire, black pepper, cumin, paprika, and dry mustard, and stir. When done sautéing add this to the quinoa, stir and serve.

SALT AND PEPPER SALAD

This extremely easy salad is a tribute to the balmy days of early summer when lettuces are readily available from the garden and lighter garnishes are in demand. I always like some kind of crunchy topping, and when I decided to make something with Fritos, I realized that its salty flavor would go well with the popular spicy arugula.

SALT AND PEPPER SALAD

•1 part of mixed lettuce

•1 part of arugula

•1 8oz. can of sliced ​​water chestnuts

•1 tablespoon of coarse salt

•1 tablespoon of ground pepper

•1 small bag of Fritos

•Your favorite dressing

Wash and drain the lettuce. Drain the water chestnuts. Mix everything in a bowl and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Cut up a bag of Fritos and shred them. Then sprinkle on top. It is recommended to dress a light vinaigrette, perhaps citrus.